You’ve submitted your resume and cover letter, passed all the computer screening, and have just received a call to interview for your dream job: the job is practically yours, right?
Not so fast!
You have to get through the interview process. While it may seem daunting, you can do this. For most professions, interview questions are standard and fairly easy to practice for. Here are some additional ways to knock your interview out of the park.
Pay Attention to Body Language – Yours and Theirs
You might be all sorts of nervous for your interview, but don’t show it. Practice before your interview walking into the room calmly, with your head held high and a smile on your face. Walk confidently, but don’t swagger. You are the person for the job, but you don’t have it yet, so be modest yet sure of your abilities.
Pay attention to your interview panel – most interview panels will be made up of 2 or more people, so pay attention to everyone individually. Are most people smiling and sitting in a relaxed position? Or are they serious, leaning forward, with their arms on the table? Mirror their body language, but remember to stay loose and confident. Sit tall and direct answers to every member of the panel, ending your answer by looking at the person who asked you the question.
Be Prepared for Varied Questions
Practice your questions beforehand, and be prepared to answer variations of the questions you’ve studied. One of the standard interview questions for entry level positions is ‘how do you handle adversity?’ This question can be asked in a variety of ways: How have you handled a difficult situation with a coworker? Tell us about a time you didn’t complete a project on time?
I was asked a question about a time I failed – this is the time to talk about a ‘failure’ at work – either at an internship you’ve done or a job (even retail or restaurant – those absolutely count as jobs!). Your goal is to frame this adversity as something positive. You can talk about a goal you set for yourself (at work) that you didn’t meet but how you learned something about it (goal setting, working with a team, understanding a process you didn’t know before).
Have someone help you practice your interview questions, and encourage them to ask you the questions in different ways. This will help you be prepared for any type of standard question your interviewers may ask.
If you’re going for an entry-level position, you will likely be up a lot of other people who are very similar to you: similar background, education, even GPA (if you’ve included that on your resume).
You need to stand out.
Why should they choose you? Did you grow up in the community or have strong family ties? Are you new to the area, but actively volunteer? Have you recently purchased a home in the area? All of these show you are a stable candidate – you are connected to the community and therefore there is less risk of you leaving after a year to move to another city (and leave the company hanging). Make the connection for the interviews: why you + that city = excellent fit.
With some practice and confidence, you can succeed at interviews and get the dream job (or jobs) you want. Interviews won’t be daunting once you remember a few key things: pay attention to body language, be ready for (almost) any question, and stand out from the crowd!